Even if you don’t participate, social media has an impact on everyone. According to a Pew Research poll, “Seven-in-ten Americans use social media.” Nearly every business has a social media strategy since these platforms have proven to be a rich advertising arena. But, even if it’s your job, it’s important to learn social media etiquette to avoid offending those around you – those who engage with your online content, and your potential clients. Knowing when to put your phone away, asking permission before you post content about someone else, and maintaining your public brand are all integral elements of social media etiquette. 

Phone Etiquette

Most social media engagement is done on mobile phones. That said, there are certain times when it’s rude to be on your phone, whether you’re engaging with social media content or reading the news. If you arrive for a lunch meeting with a potential client, and the potential client is already there, don’t take the time to check into the restaurant on Facebook while they’re waiting for you. If you tell them that you’re using social media instead of engaging with the person right in front of you, it makes it look like the potential client is less important than whatever is going on your screen. That’s a bad look. This is also relevant advice for events where social media may be integrated into the event. If you’re at a wedding with a hashtag, for instance, know when to look up and enjoy the party. Furthermore, at such events, it’s important to remember to ask the couple about their preference when it comes to sharing details about the wedding online; in other words, don’t post wedding-related content unless you get the green light from the newlyweds first.

Asking For Permission, Not Forgiveness

Especially for business-related social media, it’s important to ask people before you post photos or information about them online. If you’re hosting an open house event, and take a picture of someone enjoying the cupcake table, you need to ask their permission before posting the photo on the event page. The person may not like the picture, or they’re trying to limit their web presence. Either way, you want to respect the people who are impacted by your social media content, especially if you’re sharing their face or name.

Keeping It Together: Maintaining Your Online Brand

Part of maintaining a brand is using a consistent tone and delivery when interacting with customers (or potential customers) online. If you post a new product, and people ask questions in the comment section, you need to respond to questions with the same tone that you used in the post to maintain brand consistency. In a similar vein, you want to avoid social media conflict; even businesses aren’t immune from cancel culture, and your brand needs to keep up a positive web presence. 

Social media is still very new. Everyone is still learning how to use these platforms to their fullest, but knowing when to put your phone away, asking for permission to post photos or information about people, and maintaining a brand are all good places to start when exploring social media etiquette. Mastering these three crucial rules is the first step to improving your social media presence.